Pakistan have replaced wicketkeeper and vice-captain Kamran Akmal with young Sarfaraz Ahmed in the playing XI for the third Test against Australia commencing in Hobart from Thursday.
Besides Akmal, the selectors also dropped Faisal Iqbal, Misbah-ul-Haq and fast bowler Mohd Sami and replaced them with Khurrum Manzoor, Shoaib Malik and Mohd Aamir.
Speculation were rife regarding the selection of Akmal, who put up a disappointing show in the Sydney Test as his team suffered a 36-run defeat even after skittling out the hosts for 127 on the first day.
While the national selectors had rushed Sarfaraz to Australia and said he would play in the Hobart Test, captain Mohd Yousuf kept everybody on the tenterhooks by insisting a final decision would be made by the tour selection committee. Akmal himself also caused plenty of confusion by stating that he was ready to play the Hobart Test and had no intention of dropping out.
But according to sources when the matter got out of hand, the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ejaz Butt made it clear to the team management, including Yousuf, that Akmal must be dropped as his form was atrocious in Sydney.
Akmal dropped four catches and missed a run out that cost Pakistan the chance to win a Test against Australia after fifteen years.
Australia, on the other hand, would be out to win the dead rubber to stamp their authority.
Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Marcus North have been far from their best, and they would be looking to make the most of the dead rubber.